The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (PNPS) is the only operational power plant of its kind in Massachusetts and one that has been operating there since 1972, generating a maximum of 677 MW of energy through its General Electric BWR-3 Mark 1 reactor. With 47 years under its belt, and no major upgrades to its primary systems, the owners of the plant (Entergy Corp.) decided that it’s time to shut the reactor down and wrap it up, as they simply don’t have the tens of millions of US dollars that are required for the necessary safety upgrades.
While many citizens around the New England region will celebrate this decision, the 580 workers who constituted the staff of the PNPS are saddened by the decision. As the reactor will cool down and the radio-active byproducts will have to be handled and stored with care, this workforce will not be dismissed right away, but instead reduced down to approximately 270 by mid-2020. Fuel rods that undergo nuclear fission don’t just cool down in a couple of hours, and they need to be stored in pools filled with cold water for as many as ten years before they can be stored away with safety.
However, one specialist company named “Holtec” has developed a new kind of a storage system based on special casks that can accept spent fuel rods after only two years of cooling. These metal and concrete casks will stay on the site from 2020 and for a long time to come after then, able to withstand the harshest elements of nature, including floods and even 360 miles per hour tornados.
Image by Stefan Kuhn from Pixabay